by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Glory of Cakratirtha: Aditya Gets Golden Hands which is chapter 23 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the twenty-third chapter of the Setu-mahatmya of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
Śrī Sūta said:
A man obtains all the desires for the realization of which he may have performed the rite of holy ablution in Cakratīrtha, O excellent Brāhmaṇas.
As the sage was engaged in penance, O Brāhmaṇas, Rākṣasas of extremely dreadful forms who were eagerly engaged in creating obstacles in penances, always harassed him.
At that time, the Discus Sudarśana came there with the desire of protecting its devotee. It playfully destroyed all the demons who were harassing him.
6-8. O Brāhmaṇas, at the request of its devotee that Discus is present in the Tīrtha made by Ahirbudhnya ever since and hence that Tīrtha is called Cakratīrtha. With the favour of Sudarśana, if one takes the holy bath therein one will never be afflicted by Rākṣasas, Piśācas, etc.
Formerly, Sun-god whose hands had been cut, obtained golden hands by taking his bath in this holy Tīrtha. He obtained them due to the efficacy of the Tīrtha.
The sages asked:
9. O son of Sūta (Sūtanandana), how did Sun-god get his hands cut and how did he get golden hands? Narrate this to us.
Śrī Sūta replied:
10-14. Formerly, Suras including Indra were continuously being harassed by Daityas. They were in a fix. ‘What shall we do?’ They thought and had a collective discussion about the matter. They consulted one another for a long time with Bṛhaspati as the presiding officer. Then, with Indra at their head, the Suras went to the abode of the Self-born Lord. They approached Brahmā, met him and devoutly eulogized him. Thereafter, they intimated to him the reason for their arrival.
The Suras said:
O Lord, O Lord of the Goddess of Speech, Daityas, haughty on account of their strength, harass us continuously. O Lord, tell us the means of redress (from the harassment).
On being asked thus by the Suras, Brahmā said to them these words sympathetically:
15-20a. O Suras, do not be frightened. I shall tell you the means in that connection. The great Yajña intended for Maheśvara is destructive of Asuras. Begin it, O Suras, along with the sages. the seers of truth. This Yajña was performed by all the Devas without any omission of the rules of procedure.
Let this great Yajña of Maheśvara be performed on Gandhamādana. If, O great Suras, you were to perform that Yajña elsewhere, the wicked Asuras would cause obstacles to that Yajña. If this Yajña is performed on the Gandhamādana mountain, there will not be any obstacle due to the favour of Sudarśana. Sudarśana is present in that Tīrtha on Gandhamādana for the sake of blessing the great sage named Ahirbudhnya.
20b-24. Hence you do perform that Yajña which destroys Asuras, on Gandhamādana, not very far from Cakratīrtha.
Then at the instance of Brahmā they immediately proceeded to Gandhamādana with Bṛhaspati at their head, with a desire to perform the Yajña. They bowed down to Ahirbudhnya, the noble-souled eminent sage. They constructed the sacrificial hall not far from his hermitage.
Accompanied by the ascetics, expert in the performance of Yajña, the Devas began the sacrifice that is destructive of Asuras. In that holy rite, Bṛhaspati himself was the Hotṛ.
25-31. (The posts of the sixteen assistant priests in the sacrifice were manned by the Devas and the sages.) Jayanta, the son of Indra, became Maitrāvaruṇa. The eighth Vasu became Acchāvāka priest. Parāśara, the son of Śakti, became Grāvastut priest. Aṣṭāvakra of great refulgence took up the duties and responsibilities of Adhvaryu. Viśvāmitra, the great sage, became Pratiprasthātṛ priest. Varuṇa became Neṣṭṛ priest, Dhaneśvara (Kubera) became Unnetṛ. Savitṛ became Brahmā, holding half of the burden (responsibility) of the Yajña. Vasiṣṭha, the excellent Brāhmaṇa, became Brāhmaṇācchaṃsin priest. Śunaḥśepa became Agnīdhra priest. Pāvaka (Fire-god) became Potṛ priest. Vāyu became Udgātṛ priest. Paretarāṭ (Yama) became Prastotṛ priest. The Pot-born Sage Agastya became Pratihartṛ priest. Madhucchandas, the great son of Viśvāmitra, became Subrahmaṇya priest. Purandara, the king of Devas, himself became Yajamāna (the sponsor of the sacrifice). Sage Śuka, the son of Vyāsa, became Upadraṣṭṛ.
33-34. In this manner the great Yajña began to be performed there. The Asuras had been afflicted very much by the unbearable prowess of Sudarśana. So they did not get any opportunity (weak point) to enter (the place) where the Yajña was performed. Thus the great sacrifice went on without any hindrance.
35-40. There the sacrificial fire blazed brightly consuming the Havis. The Adhvaryu performed all the holy rites duly without any mistake. He consigned to the fire the Puroḍāśa sanctified by means of the Mantra. What remained of the Puroḍāśa after the Homa was carefully divided by the Adhvaryu. He gave that which was destructive of sins to the Ṛtviks, the chief among whom were Hotṛs. To Savitṛ who was Brahmā in that sacrifice, he gave an excessively fierce and fiery part of the Puroḍāśa named Prāśitra. Savitṛ received that Prāśitra with both the hands. The moment when it was touched by Savitṛ that unassailable (Puroḍāśa named) Prāśitra cut off his hands even as all the Ṛtviks were watching. With his hands cut off thus by Prāśitra of fierce refulgence, Savitṛ became frightened saying “What is this?” He became very dejected.
41-43. Savitṛ called all the Ṛtviks and spoke to them thus:
My share of the Puroḍāśa named Prāśitra was given to me. Instantly it cut off my hands even as all of you were watching. Hence all of you Ṛtviks should join together and make me (new) endowed with (new) hands. If not, I will destroy this Yajña.
On hearing the words of Savitṛ, all of them began to confer (with each other).
44. Then in the middle of all the Devas and the eminent sages Aṣṭāvakra of great refulgence spoke to those Ṛtviks:
45-51. Listen ye all Ṛtviks to my statement with attention. A hundred Brahmās have passed away during my life. Crores of Four-faced Ones (Brahmās) are born and they die. I have maintained my life seeing all of them (i.e. I have survived all of them).
During the rule of the present Prajāpati named Lokeśvara, a Brāhmaṇa named Harihara who was a resident of Śyāmalāpura was hit with arrows by a hunter of the forest, who was hitting various targets for sport. He came within (the range of) his aim and his feet were cut off. Directed by sages, he went to Gandhamādana and took his holy bath in this Munitīrtha. Thereby, in those days of yore, he regained his feet. At that time this Tīrtha was called Munitīrtha. Now it has acquired the name of Cakra. It is called Cakratīrtha. Therefore, let Savitṛ whose hands have been cut off by Prāśitra take his holy bath in Munitīrtha if it is liked by you all.
52. On being told thus by the great sage Aṣṭāvakra, all the Ṛtviks became delighted and they spoke to Savitṛ:
53. “O Savitṛ, take your holy bath in this Tīrtha. You will have your hands restored. With great concentration do in accordance with Aṣṭāvakra’s statement.”
54-55. Thereupon Savitṛ went to the great Cakratīrtha. For the sake of regaining the hands, he took his holy bath there which bestows all the desired objectives. After devoutly taking his holy bath, when he rose up, he was seen endowed with two golden hands.
56-60. On seeing him (blessed) with golden hands all the Ṛtviks became delighted. Thereafter Indra and other Suras concluded that Yajña, conquered the multitude of Daityas and went back to heaven with great pleasure.
Hence this Tīrtha should be resorted to by all men perfectly for the achievement of their respective desires.
This Tīrtha which bestows all desires should be resorted to by the blind, crippled persons or persons with crooked arms, the dumb, the deaf, hunch-backed persons, lame people, people with mutilated or amputated legs as well other people wanting in limbs. It must be resorted to by persons with their hands or feet cut and persons with the other limbs also amputated. They must resort to this for regaining their lost limbs.
61-63. Thus, O Brāhmaṇas, the glory of Cakratīrtha has been recounted to you. By taking his holy bath here Sun-god got back his severed hands.
He who reads this chapter or listens to this with concentration and mental purity shall undoubtedly regain lost limbs. He will have his severed limbs made perfect and whole. One who is desirous of salvation will have it. There is no doubt about it.
Footnotes and references:
This is probably the same as shown within the Temple premises, as one is advised to go from this to Śiva-tīrtha which is in the Temple premises of Rāmanātha.
Ahirbudhnya: One Ahirbudhnya is the son of Viśvakurmā, another Ahirbudhnya is the name of a Rudra, the son of Bhūta and Surūpā (Mbh, Udyoga 114-4; Śānti 208.19-20; BhP VI.6.16; also P1 1. p.142). Another Ahirbudhnya is the author of the famous Vaiṣṇavite Ahirbudhnya-Saṃhitā. But this sage Ahirbudhnya is a different person.
Lobha is a misprint for Lopa. But the line is out of context.
Hari in the primed text is a misprint for Havi.
Prāśitra is the portion of the havis (oblation) left over after offering into the fire. It is to be given to the Brahmā-priest. It is given from a vessel of Khadira wood shaped like a cow’s ear. This vessel is called Prāśitraharaṇa.
For the procedure of distribution of Prāśitra vide HD II.ii, pp. 1064ff.